Amazing both Athletes were Golfers, Tiger Woods for the Men and Lorena Ochoa for the Women. This was unusual winners were of the same sport it had not happened since 1993 when both athletes were – Michael Jordon and Sheryl Swoopes in basketball and since 1945 when both were golfers with Babe Zaharias and Byron Nelson.
Tiger last won the Associated Press Athlete of the Year for the fourth time tying the record of Lance Armstrong. Tiger was pleased he won but puzzled that a friend of his a tennis player Roger Federer who was a distant third as his record was exceptional. Woods received 260 points from sports editors with La Daintan Tomlinson a running back for the San Diego Chargers with 230 points and Federer with 110 points.
Tiger missed the cut of the U. S. Open after his father died and some thought he may not get his drive back but he never finished worse than second in stroke play the rest of the season. Keeping his emotions in check after playing in more tournaments but after winning the British Open at Royal Liverpool, Woods emotions erupted as he sobbed on the shoulders of his caddie and then his wife. He realized it was the first win without his father and as he said, he tends to hold his emotions in but they burst forth after that win. The rest of the year was a barrage of wins with one tournament after another.
The female Athlete of the Year 2006 was Lorena Ochoa from Mexico. Ochoa was determined to improve her game as it was her goal just to be the best player on the LPGA. She kept raising the level of her golf and as she matured she handled herself both on the golf course and off. She received 220 points with a French Tennis Player Amelie Mauresmo who received 110 points. Lorena has emerged as one of the most dynamic golfers and goes for the flag every chance she gets.
It was the fourth straight year that a golfer has won the Associated Press Athlete of the Year as Annika Sorenstam has won the award the previous years. Sorenstam has quoted as saying that Lorena has become a great player and is hitting the ball longer and straighter. She also said her putting has been excellent and has mentioned that Ochoa is a nice person as well.
Ochoa grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and when she was five she begged her father to take her to the golf course. Three years later she won the first of five titles in her age group at the Junior Worlds in San Diego. Lorena says she is proud of her heritage and enjoyed the win before the home crowd in Mexico. She said she reaches out to many Mexicans she sees on all the golf courses even if they are part of the working maintenance crew. She says they all stop and watch her as she goes by, this makes her proud and always tries to do the best she can be. The only thing lacking in this years events was that she did not win a Major tournament but feels she is ready for them.
Congratulations to the two winning golfers of the Associated Press Athletes of the Year 2006, Tiger Woods and Lorena Ochoa.